Christopher Leffingwell wasn’t the first owner of the stately house that bears his family name in the historic city of Norwich, but he was, arguably, the most notable. It was his entrepreneurial skills and business sense that made him a significant supplier of provisions for Washington’s Continental Army.
The home he inherited wasn’t always as big as it became when visitors as varied as Uncas, the great Mohegan sachem, General Washington himself and his one-time neighbor, Benedict Arnold came calling.
The house built by Stephen Backus, Circa 1675, was initially a two-room structure that expanded over time as needs changed. The initial addition allowed it to be use as an inn and gathering spot for those historic personages and many more ordinary travelers.
The current owners, the Society of the Founders of Norwich , term it a living museum, an apt description. It is one of many house museums to be found in Connecticut, but this one has a special resonance.
In addition to being an extraordinary example of a restored example of New England Colonial architecture, the Leffingwell House Museum offers a little something for everyone’s interests.
The eastern Connecticut city of Norwich, where the Leffingwells were among the original settlers, is one of the state’s oldest communities. It was once among its richest communities and a most productive example of our nation’s the spirit of innovation.
It played significant roles in both the Revolutionary War and again in the Civil War, where its manufacturing and commerce aided the national causes.
Examples of this past can be found in displays throughout the Leffingwell House. These include all manner of things from the Colonial era; items brought back from China and elsewhere by whaling captains; British-made pewter; a British uniform frock and even samplers that were used to teach young girls how to needlepoint as their learned their alphabet and numbers.
But among the most stirring things to see is the nearly 200-year-old U.S. flag designed by Samuel Chester Reid, a navy captain and Norwich native. The flag created by Reid by was adopted by Congress as the basic American flag design. This one was found in the attic of a Norwich home and is proudly displayed.
That cherished bit of Americana alone is worth a visit, but it in terms of offerings, it is one among many.
Leffingwell House Museum
348 Washington St, Norwich, CT 06360